Former AFL player Daniel Gorringe didn’t have the career that most expected a top 10 draft pick would have, but he said he wouldn’t change his seven years in football after that time influenced his successful career in media.
Injury after injury
Gorringe was selected with pick 10 by the Gold Coast Suns in the 2010 National Draft however injuries tarnished his entire time with the club, sustaining numerous ankle and hamstring injuries in his debut season in 2011, which saw Gorringe only play seven games.
The run of injuries continued in 2012, where he injured his achilles, sidelining him for practically the whole season. 2013 was better for Gorringe in his regard, managing nine games across both ruck and key forward positions, which he was rewarded with a two-year contract extension to the end of 2015.
However, 2014 was a repeat of 2012, with Gorringe sustaining another achilles injury. A late recovery saw him play three games late in the season before a knee injury ended his season early.
Gorringe said the pressure of being a top draft pick and people waiting for his body to be fit so he could play consistent football lingered in his thoughts for his entire duration at the Suns.
“I’ve had it pretty tough and unfortunately I don’t think I understood what being a certain pick number meant and that probably got the better of me in my early years in my career. I was expected that I needed to do so much to live up to the pick I was,” Gorringe said.
“I felt the pressure straight away going into the league and I didn’t really shake that pressure and it was at first the pressure of trying to be one of the best juniors, but after all the injuries it was the fourth-year pressure and if I was going to explode on the field.
“It was like a cloud over me unfortunately for my whole career in the AFL.”
In 2015, Gorringe was delisted by the Suns, and was recruited to Carlton in November 2015 as a delisted free agent, yet his horror luck with injuries followed.
A hip injury ended Gorringe’s season in 2016 before reinjuring his achilles during the preseason of 2017. At the conclusion of 2017, Gorringe retired from football, having only played 26 games across seven seasons.
This left Gorringe in the transition phase to life after football with little plans on where he wanted to go next. He hadn’t thought about post-football life like his friend Dylan Buckley, who Gorringe now co-hosts the podcast List Cloggers with.
Gorringe knew making people laugh was what he was good at and decided to pursue this on social media. He found the best way at doing this was reflecting on his AFL career in a comedic way, making jokes at the fact that his career wasn’t as successful as what he or others would have thought it would be.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do post footy, and I had a good long think about what I was passionate about and what I think I was good at doing naturally and that was making people laugh,” he said.
“So, what started off as me on Twitter tweeting about my career in the AFL and taking the p**s out of it, it turned out people liked it and liked seeing that side of footy because normally you hear about how good everyone’s career was and how they played 300 games and were club captain but mine was the exact opposite.
“That resonated with a lot of people because there’s more s**tkickers around than AFL stars, and from there it went onto Big Brother and that was a great experience, and I met some good people and not that I ever wanted to or intended to, but it raised my profile.
“It’s all been a massive blessing and not a day goes by where I am not grateful for everything that’s happened and that includes my footy career. Everything happened for a reason and me being so bad at footy was a blessing for me because moving now into the other side of it, I’ve been able to take the p**s out of myself and make people laugh.”
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Buckley first begun his solo podcast Dyl and Friends in 2018 and was persistent in getting Gorringe on as one of the show’s guests.
At the very least, Gorringe knew he was comfortable around Buckley, resonating with the fact that they both had football careers that just didn’t go to plan. While at Carlton together, the two spent a lot of time playing in the reserves and were able to talk to one another about how they were feeling.
“We had similar careers and we could talk to each other about how things were going,” Gorringe said.
“I know at Carlton there was a group of us playing with the reserves and we were all feeling the same emotion, it was just tough going, so not only Dyl, but a bunch of us players were playing twos so we could bounce off each other and get through.
“I think that was probably the start of men talking about their feelings and how they’re going and if you’re struggling to just talk and know you’re not alone.”
Gorringe eventually gave in and featured on the show in November 2019. This appearance came before Gorringe appeared on Big Brother, and he said was another contributing factor to realising media and making people laugh was what he needed to do.
“Dyl was obviously killing it at the time with Dyl and Friends and he was bugging me for ages about getting on the show, he kept saying ‘we need to do something together’ and I just said, ‘I’ve just come out of footy, I don’t know what I want to do yet just let me breathe a bit’,” he said.
“After Dyl and Friends and that first episode of jumping on and talking, and being in Big Brother, I got some really big numbers in following and that’s when the penny dropped and I said to Dyl, ‘you’re right we need to do something’ and that was List Cloggers.
“We never thought that it would have got the traction that it has. The podcast have a great following and lots of different people listen.
“We always thought it was going to be mostly males, but we have a massive female audience as well who just like listening to us talk trash. All the people who follow and listen and subscribe, we are very grateful for.”
Shutting out the haters
Gorringe admits that while he found what he is good at, he still receives messages and comments from people not liking the content he puts out, especially earlier on in his media career.
He said reminding himself that he has finally found a career suited to him and has a substantial following of loyal fans simply gets him through the negative comments.
“It’s definitely tough and there’s times where I still have to not necessarily remind myself but just every now and then ‘Dan just be yourself, if you’re creating something just because you want other people to like it, it’s not right so just do whatever you feel is good within yourself’,” he said.
“Years and years ago I used to read every comment and say there’s 500 good ones, it’ll be the one negative comment sticking in my mind and me dwelling over.
“But now I’ve realised that I’m just not going to please everyone in everything I do and that applies to myself in social media, or politicians or you could be someone who works in an office job or as a tradie and you won’t please everyone either.”
Gorringe’s one piece of simple advice is to just be yourself. He said that’s all he does, and he couldn’t be happier with where he has ended up post-football.
“People are going to try and pick you apart for whatever reason it is and as long as you stay true yourself and you’re happy with what you put out there,” he said.
“It’s a lot easier to be yourself than it is being someone else and I think especially nowadays, being individual and being unique and being different is more popular.
“I know it’s hard at the moment with social media and people seeing what everyone else is doing and wants to do that and wish they had that certain thing but the best thing you can do is just be yourself and all the benefits of being yourself, you get reward in the long run.
“As long as you can live with that and you’re happy then there’s a way to go about it because like I said, you just can’t please everybody can’t expect to either.”
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